CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
Each weekday morning, Samuel Pam walked to Notting Hill Gate underground station, rode the tube to Westminster then walked a further twelve minutes to his office. He avoided people in public, so when he stepped onto the train and noticed an empty end-seat, he sat there. These were favourable because only one person could sit beside you, reducing the possibility of conversation.
A man in his twenties took the seat beside Samuel, who gave him the once-over and decided he seemed harmless enough. The train pulled away and Samuel took out his paperback. The standing-room was taken and he was aware of bodies in front of him swaying like the walls of a human maze which confined him, unable to escape until the walls themselves disembarked. The man beside him leant closer and whispered:
“Do you satisfy your girlfriend in bed?”
Samuel watched his book and turned to the next page.
The man whispered, “Leave the small size behind. No girl likes a small…”
Samuel looked along the carriage in the opposite direction, and through the maze he saw the mad Spanish-looking woman making her way towards him.
The man beside him whispered: “Bring her to new heights of ecstasy with just one more inch.”
The maze swayed before him and Samuel felt as though immobilized in a nightmare.
The Spanish-looking woman had pursued him since he left his flat that morning. He was late and was about to leave but felt hungry. He placed two slices of bread in his toaster and as he pushed down the “start” lever, his doorbell sounded. He rushed to the door and saw a courier standing there who said, “I have a large package for you,” raising his eyebrows on the word “large”.
Samuel looked down at the package and told him, “It doesn’t look all that large to me.”
The man handed him a form and Samuel was about to sign it when he noticed the declaration he was signing: “Yes, I want to say goodbye to my locker-room embarrassment.” He looked up at the man who turned over the package and pointed to the wording on the reverse:
This patented work-out for your “best friend” will put inches where it really matters.
The courier said, “Just sign here,” and pushed Samuel’s hand down onto the form.
Samuel resisted, shouting, “There’s nothing wrong with my… ‘best friend’!” but the man held his hand and tried moving it over the form. Samuel broke free, pulled his front door shut and pushed past the man on his way into the street. He carried his hunger and irritation to the end of the street and as he turned the corner, he noticed the Spanish-looking woman rushing after him. She lived somewhere nearby and always seemed to be pestering people in the street. She shouted to him, “You plunge it in and leave in a hurry.”

In the goldfish bowl, Bruce and Sheila Softly were hovering side by side. For the past ten minutes there was nothing but silence, and—to Bruce, anyway—the silence seemed to deepen with each minute.
For one further time, Sheila looked accusingly at Bruce; and Bruce could not stand this any longer. He turned to swim off, when Sheila said, “Where do you think you’re going, Bruce?”
Bruce opened his mouth to speak but there did not seem anything to say, so he just watched Sheila with his mouth hanging open.
Sheila demanded, “Well?”
Bruce said, in an experimental tone, “For a swim—?”
Sheila snapped, “Get back here—I want a word with you.”
Bruce turned back and sighed.
Sheila said, “And just why can’t you see me as a bus driver?”
“That! you’re asking me about that?”
“Come on, why?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yes you do, Bruce.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You do!”
“I don’t!”
“Do!”
“Don’t!”
“Do!”
After a pause, Bruce said, “It was only an example—that’s all.”
“But why pick that?”
“No reason, Sheila; it was just the first thing I thought of.”
Sheila scowled at him and said, “You think that’s all I’m good for, don’t you?—driving busses.”
“Of course not.”
“Why then?”
“It— er— it just didn’t seem like your style, that’s all, Sheila, not your style.”
“Not my style?”
“No.”
“Why not?”
“I just pictured you doing something better.”
“Something better?”
“Of course, Sheila.”
“Like what?”
“Like whatever you wanted to.”
“Anything?”
“Anything.”
“And what if I wanted to be bus driver!”
Bruce shouted, “Be a bus driver, if that’s what you want!”
“But you said it wasn’t my style, Bruce.”
Bruce glared at Sheila for several seconds—his glare steadily intensifying—then he turned and darted away.
Sheila called, “You said you couldn’t really see me as a bus driver, Bruce.”
Bruce circled the bowl, going quicker and quicker, trying to block out the sound of Sheila’s taunts.
Sheila kept shouting, “—Saying that’s all I’m good for—that’s what you were doing. I can see exactly what you’re thinking, so don’t think you’ve fooled me. No, you’re just pretending it’s not what you were thinking, Bruce. That’s it—I can see everything you’re thinking—I can see it in your face!”
Bruce was now so enraged he was in danger of deliberately leaping from the bowl to escape Sheila’s taunts.
But Sheila then seemed to have finally emptied his whole head of words, so he turned, peered silently through the glass of the bowl and continued watching the view in the living room—but this time smirking smugly.

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